What Happened to the Garden?

For those who have been following my blog for a while (or have browsed through my older posts here and on Tumblr), you may be wondering what happened to our garden since I was laid up for so long. Between the miscarriage just before E, my long pregnancy bed rest, and my difficult postpartum recovery from my symphysis pubis dysfunction, our garden has been very neglected for about a year now. My husband had the overwhelming burden of taking care of literally EVERYTHING while I was laid up. In addition to his long hours at work, he had to be responsible for all of our shopping, errands, laundry, cleaning, cooking, and caring for me. Considering I could not even bathe myself for much of that time, the load on his shoulders was quite heavy. Somewhere in the midst of all that, he also found the time to finish our kitchen remodel, remodel the baby’s room, and deal with all the stress of getting that house in Texas sold. Worrying about our yard was not high on his list of priorities.

At one point, my husband brought up the idea of hiring a gardener to take care of things while I was laid up, but I hate that idea. It may seem weird, but I can’t stand anyone else messing with my plants. We tried that when I was in bed with pneumonia for over a month (about two years ago), and they pulled out most of my herb garden, claiming they thought it was all weeds. It is bad enough that someone dug up and stole a bunch of my plants here while I was in the hospital after E was born. I would have been pretty mad if even more had been dug up or mistreated.

Surprisingly, our front yard held up relatively well considering the total neglect. It was looking very embarrassing for quite some time, but I am glad that the majority of my plants survived. Buying drought tolerant and native plants really paid off! This past weekend, we spent as much time as possible getting everything more in order both in the front and back yards. We pruned dead growth, trimmed and shaped plants, pulled out tons of weeds, cleaned up lots of pine needles, relocated plants that were running out of space, dug out plants that did not survive, fertilized everything, worked in compost, and added new wildflower and grass seeds. It was a lot of work but so worth it. These pictures were taken at the end of our cleanup. They will be a good reference point to see how quickly everything starts to perk up!

Lately we have been trying to stick by our weekend rule of one day of projects for the house and one day of something fun. E will only be little for so long, and we don’t want to look back and realize we didn’t enjoy this time because we worked too hard on our house. We made an exception to that rule this weekend since we were all enjoying bring outside. E even joined in a little in the Moby wrap (Instagram pic at the end).

Pictures of the back yard will be coming soon as well…as soon as the baby naps long enough for me to finish pulling out the last of the weeds. 🙂

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How To: Eliminate the Green Waste Bin

When we first moved into this house, the yard was very neglected.  I spent weeks filling up the two green waste bins and it felt like I would never catch up with getting rid of all the piles I had around the yard.  I started researching other ways that I could start reusing some of the waste from our yard instead of sending it to the city.  I have now found a use for everything I was throwing away in the green bins previously!

1.  This is something I have always done anyway, but grass clippings go into the compost bin.

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2.  I have always heard that pine needles do not make good mulch for vegetable beds because they are acidic.  I spent so much time filling up those bins with pine needles.  I then read a recent study at a university testing the actual impact pine needles have on the pH of soil.  The study found that pine needles that have been sitting out for at least 3 weeks have no impact on the soil pH.  Now, instead of throwing all the pine needles out, I gather them into a pile and let them age into good mulch for my vegetable beds.  While I am waiting for them to be ready to use in the vegetable beds, I use them as mulch under the pine tree in our backyard.  Now I have enough to keep all of my vegetable beds nicely mulched!

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3.  Instead of throwing out branches, twigs, and some dried ivy leaves from the trees and vines I have pruned, we decided to pile it up for making more mulch.  I let it all dry out, and then I chipped it up to make more mulch.

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4.  Instead of tossing out the weeds from the garden beds and grass, I am using the weeds to make a type of compost tea (original post here). Everything has really been flourishing since I started feeding them with this as an added supplement!

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My New Plant Welcome Kit

My new plant welcome kit: organic fertilizer, organic compost, organic garden soil, and red cedar mulch.

I have been doing a lot of fruit tree/vine planting, and I have a method now.  I dig a hole twice as big around as the root ball that the plant came in, and a little deeper.  Then I add a little compost and fertilizer at the bottom of the whole before I put the plant in.  This encourages the plant’s roots to reach down for the nutrients.  Then I fill in the hole with a mix of the existing soil and some good organic gardening soil.  I top it off with more compost and fertilizer.  To finish, I add a thick layer of mulch to retain moisture, and start watering deeply to help the plant establish itself.

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